Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving reflections on friendships

On Thanksgiving Day, I signed onto Facebook and saw what felt like 200 status updates proclaiming what everyone was thankful for (that day/in that moment/in general).  While I appreciated some of what I read, I wanted to enjoy the holiday and let things sink in a bit so I could truly reflect about my life and my blessings.

After a long weekend, some great exercise, great wine, and much needed rest, I decided to brainstorm a bit on this topic.  What spoke out to me most this year were the ladies (yes, ladies) in my life who have made a big difference to me.   Friends who have made me happier, simply by their presence and positive energy.  Colleagues who have stuck by me through thick and thin.  Family members who have made me laugh every day since I can remember laughing for the first time.  People who have loved me unconditionally.

I wanted to share about a few friends who have made a big difference to me this month:

My friend Mariko (pictured on the left)
Mariko is like the sister I never had.  She and I went to the same high school but didn't start spending QT together until after college.  Mariko is honest, loving, funny, quirky, and compassionate.  Every time we are together, I walk away feeling like the past hour (or two) could not have been better spent.  The other day, Mariko texted me just to see how I was doing - asking if I was really okay, because she felt that she needed to check up on me (how sweet!).  Mariko has been there for me these past few months while I've been learning more about myself and the relationships in my life.  For that, I cannot be more grateful.

My friend Sarah (Sarah is on the left, hehe!)
Sarah is like a 2 for 1 gift :).  She's my colleague and my friend.  Sarah and I have been through a LOT together - both personally and professionally.  This Summer, Sarah gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Jonah.  While Sarah was on maternity leave (and since she's been back) I've realized more and more how much I appreciate Sarah's presence in my life on multiple levels.  Sarah and I are a true team at work.  We see eye to eye (both personally and professionally) and have great conversations.  At work, we share a common vision and get things done.  We understand each other and enable each other to succeed at what we're each good at.   Aside from this, anytime I'm having a great or bad day, I can email Sarah right away to express how I'm feeling.  We also share the same sense of humor (often self-effacing) which helps get us through the day - no day is short of laughter.   I know I will never take colleagues like Sarah for granted.

My friend Erin (pictured above, right)
This year, my dear friend Erin moved back home from London, and then onto Boston!  I am truly excited for Erin to start her new live in the city she loves, but I miss her soooo much.  Fortunately, Erin is the most reliable communicator and I can always count on her to respond to my nutty texts or send me fun emails during the week.  My favorite thing about Erin (besides the fact that she is SUCH A GOOD FRIEND) is that she appreciates the simple things in life - watching a favorite movie or TV show, drinking a cup of tea (or Guinness :), or cooking dinner together on a Friday night.  For this reason, whenever Erin and I talk or spend time together, we always have a blast no matter what we do (we always manage to make the smallest things seem like an epic adventure).  For that, I am thankful.

My friends Marianne (L) and Maria (R)
I have known Marianne and Maria since I was a freshman in high school.  We refer to ourselves as "M3."  Marianne (M1), Margie (M2), and Maria (M3).  When we are together, we are absolutely over the top, ridiculous, (definitely annoying to the public), but also awesome.   Last Wednesday I was able to spend QT with the two of them, and it reminded me of how grateful I am for them.  They are truly incredible and so much fun to be around.  They understand me completely and every time we're together we laugh so hard.  You can't put a price on that!

My friends Anna (pictured below on her wedding day!) and Megan (pictured above!)
I could go on and on about how wonderful these two are, but in this post I will refer to Anna and Megan as my #1 Blog readers and cheerleaders :).  Anna and Megan have read my blog since day one, and they never have stopped encouraging me.  They give me great feedback and are constantly my source of inspiration to keep on writing.  In addition, they are incredible people and awesome friends.  What I appreciate the most about Anna and Megan is that they are so honest and loving.  They can admit good or bad days, and say "this is me, world! take it or leave it"  Gosh I love these gals.

Who is a friend you have been particularly grateful this holiday season?  Let him/her know! :)

Working out for 365 days - one woman's story

Today my friend Sarah shared a fascinating article with me about a woman who challenged herself to workout (or "sweat") for an entire year - that's right, 365 days.  Every day.  Even on her wedding day!

I strongly encourage you to read the full article (and interview), but here were two responses that I really loved:

So did you really sweat 365 days in a row?
Yes and no. I worked out for 365 days in a row but sometimes my body needed a break and I listened. Those days I would walk for 45 minutes in my neighborhood or go to a slower paced yoga class. I did not sweat (much), I just moved. It is important to listen to what your body needs no matter what your fitness goals are. When you are able to truly listen, you will be able to complete the goal a lot easier than if you push it so hard that it breaks.

Hit us with some words of wisdom – what else did you learn?
Like anything in life, you make the things that are important to you a priority. If you do not have your health, then you have no life. Deep, right? Take care of your health and cultivate it by providing yourself with a healthy lifestyle. You will thank yourself a thousand times over for all of the benefits that continue to unfold.

I really love the idea of listening to your body and doing what is right for you every day.  This weekend I REALLY pushed my body working out, but on Monday I knew my body needed to rest a bit but still continue moving and pushing through the soreness.  I decided to go to yoga last night, and it was definitely the right call.

One thing I've learned about fitness in the past year is that it's not about tackling intense workouts every day - but rather, listening to your body and doing something (large or small) every day.  If all I have the energy for (or what I need) is a 20 minute speed walk around my neighborhood with my dog, I do just that - and I don't apologize. However, when I don't do anything for a few days in a row, that is perfectly okay, but I just don't feel as healthy or happy.  It's not about weight or diet or checking something off my list - but rather, taking care of myself and my body.  Exercise for me contributes to physical, emotional AND mental health!

Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

Article Source

Sunday, November 25, 2012

From one blah day to two GREAT days

On Friday night, I sat at home in a complete state of blah.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know this usually happens once every couple of months.  Friday night I didn't really have anything to complain about, but I was feeling sad, restless, sluggish, alone, and down in the dumps.  I hadn't had a productive day, and I didn't feel happy or healthy.

Fortunately, I was able to pull myself out of the state of blah (after a good night's rest).  I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking and the idea that we can decide what kind of day we are going to have.  Sure, life doesn't always throw us the easiest situations - however, we are ultimately in charge of how we respond to the obstacles we encounter.  We can choose to have a good or bad attitude.  We can choose how to spend our time.  We can choose to take care of ourselves and our health or ignore it.   At the end of the day, it's up to us. 

At the same time, as I've said here before, I also believe that it's okay to not be okay.  It's okay to need one night (or two) to sit around and throw a pity party, and then decide to move on when we're ready.  Thus I decided to pull out my journal and move myself in the direction of progress:

(11-23-12): So today is not my day, and that is okay.  I cannot feel perfect every day, in every way.  So tonight is going to be my off day, and tomorrow will be better.  I will wake up with greater energy and a sense of the new day and the opportunities ahead.  I will take time to do things that are healthy for me, and I will be kind to myself.  I believe that tomorrow I will make progress and take steps toward my health and happiness.  I deserve to be happy, to have a healthy body, and to live my life fully.

Fortunately, my journal exercise proved to be rather effective.  I started out my Saturday with the most amazing yoga session.  The entire time I was there I thought "I am SO GLAD I am here.  Why don't I do this every Saturday?!" (Note, I promptly went home and put this yoga class on my calendar for the rest of the year).   After taking Lucy to the dog park, I showered, put up grown up clothes (yes, it's an accomplishment) and met my family at the Fremont Brewing Company for a fun beer tasting.  We drank awesome ales and laughed the whole time.  I then watched the Notre Dame vs. USC football game with a fantastic, spicy chili dinner (thank you, Mom)!  Instead of going out on Saturday night, I watched The Good Wife and then went to bed and got 10 hours of sleep!  It was a day full of pick me ups.

To no surprise, my positive energy kept on going on Sunday.  I started out this morning with a power walk with Lucy in the neighborhood (a 100% guaranteed mood booster).  Then I watched the Seahawks game (I won't mention details of the loss) while cleaning my place.  Later, I went for a run with my friend Alex, which I had been putting off for way too long.  It felt great to do the loop and feel that sense of accomplishment.  I then met my friend Carly for a walk at Discovery Park, my favorite place in Seattle.  It was such a beautiful day.  In addition to getting more great exercise outside, I felt so fortunate to be around Carly.   Every time Carly and I hang out, I leave feeling energized and happy.  Carly is an honest, fun, and beautiful person (inside and out).  This afternoon reminded me how important it is to surround myself with friends who are guaranteed to make me feel better whenever we hang out.

To finish off my day, I went grocery shopping and cooked an awesome, healthy dinner.  Fresh salmon, baked asparagus, a vege, chickpea, and pine nut couscous side dish, and a fresh garden salad - with red wine, of course. :) I also managed to take a hot bath and relax for a solid 30 minutes.  I am now taking time to blog, which I haven't done since earlier this month!  

How are you going to turn tomorrow into a great day?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Flat belly tips!

Today I got another great newsletter from a trainer about tips for getting a flatter belly.  Rather insightful.  I found it particularly interesting how what you eat (not just how much you eat) can contribute to your belly fat.  Read on!

Beer belly. Love handles. Fat.

Whatever you want to call it, excess weight around your middle can be the most difficult weight on your body to lose.

It is also more dangerous to your health than those extra pounds that accumulate on your hips or thighs.

The fat around your belly is an outward sign of deep, internal fat surrounding your organs. Fat in this area causes an increase of hormones that raise blood pressure and increase bad cholesterol, putting you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and premature death.

Belly fat has also been associated with an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and metabolic syndrome.

What's to blame for belly fat? Stress, age, poor lifestyle choices, and genetics play a role—but so does your diet.

Here's what not to eat and what to eat if you want to banish belly fat.

Recipe for a Fat Belly

It is fair to say that weight gain around your waistline and anywhere else on your body is caused by consumption of too many calories. That being said, there do seem to be certain foods and drinks especially associated with an increase of fat cells in the abdominal area.

While you may use it playfully, the phrase "beer belly" is an accurate description of what goes on when you down too much alcohol. Drinking too much may make it difficult to fasten your jeans. Why does this happen? When you drink alcohol, your liver goes into overdrive to burn it off instead of working to burn off the high fat content. Alcohol can also make you hungrier, causing you to consume more calories than normal.

Foods containing trans fat are another contributing factor for a large waist. Trans fat is a manmade fat created with partially hydrogenated oil. This unnatural fat leads to belly fat and moves fat from other parts of the body to the abdominal area. Where can you find trans fat in your diet? Cookies, crackers, pastries, potato chips, margarine, fried foods, and packaged foods all have this unwanted intruder.

Sugar-sweetened beverages and sodas are another possible culprit for belly fat. The empty calories and high amount of high-fructose corn syrup (a manmade sweetener) cause abnormal weight gain in the midsection. High-fructose corn syrup is also found in foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, jam, canned fruits, yogurt, bread, and even fruit juice.

Finally, refined, low-fiber grains are also responsible for belly fat. To avoid these, skip foods such as white rice, white bread, and sugary cereals.

Recipe for a Flat Belly

Whittling your waistline starts with a low-calorie, well-balanced diet and regular exercise. A recipe for a flat belly starts with a diet rich in fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean meat. Moving toward a slimmer waistline also requires you to move away from the fatty foods and drinks listed above.

A truly flat belly comes from a combination of a consistent, challenging exercise routine coupled with clean eating.

I'm here to help you meet your fitness and weight loss goals.

Call or email today to get started on a fitness program that will have your belly flatter than ever.
Green Tea For a Flat Belly
You may also be interested to know there's a beverage that may help reduce belly fat. That beverage is green tea.

An ingredient in green tea called catechins stimulates the burning of calories and speeds the loss of belly fat. So pour yourself a glass and drink your way to a slimmer you.

Be sure that your green tea is unsweetened and calorie free.
Cauliflower, Kale and Chicken Sausage Bake
Here's a recipe that tastes like comfort food, but without the guilt. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, filled with calcium, and numerous vitamins and minerals. Servings: 6

Here's what you need:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups kale, chopped
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • Pinch of each, dried: thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and parsley
  • 4 links nitrate-free, chicken sausage, sliced into half moons
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded and divided
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil. Place a large pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, dried herbs and chicken sausage. Mix well, and then add kale. Cover for about 3 minutes, until kale gets bright green and wilted, then remove cover. Sauté for an additional 3 minutes until everything is tender. Set aside.
  3. Place the cauliflower florets in the pot of boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat, drain, and return cauliflower to pot.
  4. Add the kale mixture to the pot as well as the chicken broth, lemon juice, ricotta cheese and half of the Parmesan cheese. Mix will over medium heat until all has been incorporated.
  5. Transfer to prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and serve.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 238 calories, 10g fat, 584mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, and 18g protein

Motivate your friends, family and co-workers!
Use the "refer a friend" link below to forward this newsletter and subscribe your friends.


John Verd
Email: info@seattlebootcamp.com
Phone: (855) FIT-CAMP
Web: Visit My Website

Friday, November 2, 2012

Little treats for self (Philosophy HEAVEN)

The other day I was at Nordstrom and passed by the Philosophy section (bad idea).  I realized that all of their holiday flavors were for sale and couldn't help but do a bit of exploring. :)

I landed on two items which I am way too obsessed with right now.  The good news is that my Nordstrom credit card notes took care of both purchases so it was the perfect compromise and reward!

I love this lotion because the fragrance is yummy but fairly mild.  It wears really nice and has already made my skin feel a lot better.   The Pumpkin Pie body wash is fantastic because it's 3-in-1 (shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath) and smells like holiday goodness.

What is your favorite holiday beauty product?

Holiday home treats

Yesterday I was at the grocery store and decided to treat myself to a couple items for my home that I just love.  For the record, I got everything for a great deal.  I bought a large pumpkin spice candle with a beautiful matching candle holder, along with a gorgeous bouquet of white roses (the photo above does no justice).

Pumpkin and holiday flavored candles are one of my favorite home treats this season.  Now that the weather has shifted gears, I am really craving time at home to relax and enjoy my surroundings.  This also means blogging, which I have been behind on for the last two months.

In short, the flowers and candles are something for myself that are simple yet bring a lot of joy to my home, and therefore me.  What is something simple that brings you happiness at home?